As a teenager growing up in the surrounds of Macleod during the late 20th century – so long ago – I have fond memories of roaming the hospital grounds of Mont Park, Plenty and Larundel – now better known as Springthorpe. Be that where my friends and I walked our dogs, or visiting my Mother who worked here. I often thought back to the mid-century period where the hospital was in full operation and my grandparents would come to work each day.
The suburb of Macleod has been home to three generations of my family. My Grandmother Anna (Wusyk) migrated from Ukraine to Australia in 1949 with her husband Iwan Kohut and, after spending some time in migrant camps, purchased land on the eastern side of the railway line. Soon after, they built the house that still stands on Munro Street – a street that could easily have been called little-Ukraine due to the number of fellow country-people who also resided there.
Anna worked as a Nursing Aid for three years at Mont Park, later returning to Mont Park as a Domestic / House Keeper for over ten years until she retired in the 1980s.
Some years after the early passing of my Grandfather Iwan, Anna re-married to Michael Malanczyn who had also migrated to Australia from Ukraine. He worked as a Kitchen Hand and Cook at Plenty, which also serviced Mont Park. He retired after fifteen years of service at the hospital.
Anna’s daughter Oksana (second child born in her first marriage), who also established a family home with husband Jerry Cymbalak in Macleod in the mid 1970s, joined the pay office at Plenty in 1984 working for the Superintendent (Head of Psychiatry). When Plenty merged with Mont Park, Oksana remained with the newly named NEMPS and moved into the White House – the aptly named administration building at the Cherry St entry to Springthorpe. She was involved in the hospital shut down and redevelopment process, finally moving to the Larundel grounds then being one of the last to leave the hospital site. The services moved to the Austin Hospital in the mid 1990s, where Oksana still works today in the Mental Health Department.
Who would have thought that the grounds I used to wander through, the buildings I would visit or pass by and the location my family worked at for many years, would soon become my home. In 2007 I purchased a townhouse on Ernest Jones Drive. If my memory serves me well this might be the very soil that housed the Plenty kitchen where my Grandfather Michael worked.
Many buildings (such as Plenty Administration, Pharmacy, Kitchen) are gone although some have been retained and transformed into housing or commercial use. Michael passed away some 10 years ago and Anna lived the last few years of her life in Aged Care before passing very recently. The White House has survived and so do the memories of the Wusyk / Kohut / Malanczyn / Cymbalak family in Macleod and Springthorpe.